716 Vista Avenue,
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Jim Matthews opened the Vista Theatre, Boise’s first suburban theatre on July 4, 1946 with “Irish Eyes Are Smiling”. The Vista Theatre was designed by Salt Lake architect, Paul K. Evans and a newspaper ad on opening day gave it’s latest conveniences including “Post-War Sound Development — Sound You Feel as Well Hear”, “Picture— Large Lifelike, Harmony to the Eyes”, and “Luxury— Deep Spring Cushioned Pillow Back Seats”. It also featured a soundproof, air-conditioned cry room. Also included was a “Free Large Parking Lot” adjacent to the theatre.
It was Boise’s first movie house to be built away from the downtown area, which already had six theatres, and was located in Vista Village, which the City of Boise calls Idaho’s oldest shopping center.
In a 1973 Idaho Statesman article Matthews said he bid for the big pictures many times to play in his modest-sized 423-seat family-oriented venue. He said he paid $10,000 against ninety percent of the ticket sales for “The Sting”, and “Sounder” ended up costing him $25,000. This was at a time when he was competing against the much larger ABC Intermountain Theatres-owned Ada (Egyptian).
The Vista Theatre finally closed in late-October 1985 with its last film, “Cocoon”. Gary Sorenson, who had owned the theatre since 1979, said the reason was competition from multiplex theatres and its policy of showing mostly family films.
The Vista Theatre building still exists today but is unrecognizable as a theatre for it has been a tire store for many years.
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